Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures

Sharks at Risk
The Gray Whale Obstacle Course
America's Underwater Treasures
Return to the Amazon
Sea Ghosts: Belugas
Call of the Killer Whale


Voyage to Kure: Expedition Diaries

<< Expedition Diaries | About the Islands

Day 12: Threats to the NWHI

Jean-Michel Cousteau
Jean-Michel Cousteau. Photo credit: Tom Ordway

For a long time, we [humans] have had the mentality of "out of sight, out of mind." But there are no secrets hiding our actions in what we are encountering on these remote atolls of the Pacific.

- Jean-Michel Cousteau

Maro Reef

Date: 7/18/03
Location: N25°25.7' W170°40.9'
Weather: Wind 16 knots
Sea Conditions: Fairly flat seas, wind chop 3-4 feet

After arriving at Maro Reef in the middle of the night, the team spends the first few hours of daylight motoring around the reef looking for both known and unexplored dive sites in the area. Their first dive is spectacular, with large groups of juvenile Galapagos sharks -- the most they've seen yet -- and jacks so large that they keep the sharks at bay. The coral and other macro life is also stunning. Two other dives are not quite as good, though they do have a great encounter with a large manta ray.

Jean-Michel Cousteau:

In 1885, the administration of President Franklin Pierce asked the famous Native American, Chief Seattle, if the federal government could buy some of his tribal land in the state of Washington, where the city of Seattle is located today. Chief Seattle's reply to the president was more than a simple no; he also warned, "Continue to contaminate your bed and you will one night suffocate in your own waste."

Sadly, his warning was close to prophecy. Even here, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we see, feel and experience the devastating effects of the impact we are having on the ocean. We are using the ocean as a garbage can, a universal sewer, and a dumping ground. For a long time, we have had the mentality of "out of sight, out of mind." But there are no secrets hiding our actions in what we are encountering on these remote atolls of the Pacific.

Schools of colorful damselfish were abundant near this reef structure. Expedition dive team member Tove Petterson swims quietly by to get a peek at these shy creatures. Photo credit: Tom Ordway
Click to enlarge

Quote of the day

Never too late to turn the tide as long as there is one child who has the same foresight as President Roosevelt.


I have not gone on a dive in the NWHI where jacks were not present. From the readings I have done so far, I have learned that as we travel farther in a northwest direction, there will not only be more and more jacks and sharks, but they will also be bigger and bigger.

What's good

To be at sea.

What's bad

Time here is too short, and it's frustrating that we cannot spend the amount of time we would like at each dive destination.

What's fun

The team's dynamic energy!

What's a bummer

Absolutely nothing other than not enough time!

Life aboard the Searcher

A gentle, seaworthy, wonderful little vessel, which serves the purpose of this expedition. It is a real privilege to work with such a warm and completely dedicated crew and family.

Rest and relaxation activities

No time for rest other than mandatory sleep, dive, dive, dive. The relaxation comes when we are in the water where suddenly your mind is in a different world. For me, it is the perfect way to recharge my batteries. I come out of a dive pumped up again.

Fun stuff

Fun is dinner, joking with good old friends, teasing each other, and having a growing family and team who all work so well together. Fun is Blair's and Don's senses of humor that keep us laughing every day. And having women on the team! Our female team members add a totally different atmosphere with an important gentle touch. We have finally entered the 21st century.